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Troubleshooting SAP with Application Performance Management (APM)

Adam Sinnett

April 19, 2011

Computerworld UK reporter Leo King recently highlighted a global survey by PAC Consulting that found that 43 percent of SAP customers are dissatisfied with the system's response times across all components. What's more, 96 percent of respondents said they feared financial risk if their SAP system experienced performance problems.

Given these numbers it seems surprising—at first—that so many enterprises deploy SAP in the first place.

Analysts are eager to point out, however, that the survey didn't just measure SAP application satisfaction; it also took into account all of the issues that have a negative effect on SAP performance, including the age of the deployment and the technology infrastructure it runs on. Because SAP draws on so many software components in addition to network and server infrastructure, problems in other areas of the data center can have a significant negative impact on SAP performance. This issue is compounded by the fact that companies use systems like SAP for so much in their business and in such complex, customized environments, according to IDC analyst David Bradshaw.

Sounds like an application performance management solution would be a tremendous help to these survey respondents—particularly after reading that 40 percent of them can't detect issues in real time and instead simply rely on user feedback. What's more, 51 percent said they couldn't perform SAP troubleshooting based on rapid root-cause analysis.

Identifying and addressing issues in SAP environments, without having a way to monitor or correct them, can be extremely frustrating. This study is just one of many examples of why comprehensive visibility into application performance—whether it's SAP, Oracle, or a whole host of other homegrown and enterprise applications—is so essential. Companies need to have in-depth, real-time visibility into the performance of those applications to ensure that everything is running with maximum efficiency and to detect any small issues before they escalate into disasters.

With application performance management solutions like the ExtraHop system, SAP customers gain real-time visibility, not only into the SAP software itself, but from L2–L7 across network, web, database, and storage tiers. In fact, some of our customers use the ExtraHop system in addition to SAP's Extended Diagnostic APM system, as it only monitors application-level code execution and can't identify the underlying root-cause of their issues.

Among our clients is one of the largest software manufacturers in the world. This customer was experiencing slow response times, timeouts, and incorrect data across its SAP environment. Because we provide comprehensive visibility into application behavior from layer 2–7, we were able to identify a non-standard NIC configuration on some of the application servers that was causing a problem. Through this process, the ExtraHop system was also able to rule out any additional potential causes of the problem, such as storage or database errors, slow application calls, bad URLs, and more. This example goes to prove that the problem isn't always with the application itself.

In addition, many of our customers use our system as a triaging tool, enabling them to troubleshoot their entire environment through a single UI. For customers with large SAP deployments, effective triaging helps them better identify problems outside of their SAP applications that might be affecting SAP performance. For customers with medium-sized deployments, ExtraHop gives them the ability to quickly pinpoint issues and rapidly repair anomalies without needing single-purpose tools or a siloed approach to troubleshooting. And, to address application performance monitoring in the complex, highly-customized environments that David Bradshaw mentions, we will be announcing an exciting new solution very soon!

How are you monitoring the performance of your SAP? Let us know in the comments section.

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